H-SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

Oct 18, 2012 1:43 AM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

Painted Cave residents return home after mandatory evacuation orders are lifted

Residents of the Painted Cave Community in Santa Barbara County were able to return home on Wednesday night after the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office lifted mandatory evacuations. Evacuations had been in place since 8:48am on Wednesday morning because of the Lookout Fire.

Homeowner Curtis Wiessner said the first thing he thought of when he saw the fire after dropping his sons off at school was, "you're gonna lose your house."

He said even though his family has had to evacuate due to other fires in the past, it never gets any easier.

"You never get used to that. And yes, you're always anxious with something like that," said Wiessner.

Wiessner's neighbor, Kevin Hall, said the fire was too close for comfort.

Hall said, "these flames were 20 feet in the air, and I'm thinking, oh my gosh, this is the end, my house is gone."

Both men say after the devastating Painted Cave fire in 1990, their tight-knit community took preventative measures with local fire crews.

"The fire departments and the wildlife association have done a fantastic job of clearing [brush]. This used to be thick chaparral behind you, and it (the fire) would have just worked right up there," said Wiessner.

Residents were able to return back to their homes at 5pm. Fire officials say no structures have been damaged as of Wednesday night at 8pm. Many residents credited the hard work and determination of the fire crews to their saved properties.

"This fire crew, volunteers, fire department tankers, helicopters, I mean, they saved us. They were absolutely phenomenal," ended Wiessner.

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